Red Sox Twitter Celebrates Rafael Devers' Reported 11-Year, $331M Contract Extension

Joseph Zucker@@JosephZuckerFeatured Columnist IVJanuary 4, 2023

BOSTON, MA - JULY 07:  Rafael Devers #11 of the Boston Red Sox reacts as he tosses his bat after hitting a three-run home run in the fifth inning of a game against the New York Yankees at Fenway Park on July 7, 2022 in Boston, Massachusetts.  (Photo by Adam Glanzman/Getty Images)
Adam Glanzman/Getty Images

Boston Red Sox fans can breathe a sigh of relief after the team will reportedly agree to a long-term contract with star third baseman Rafael Devers.

ESPN's Jeff Passan provided the details:

Jeff Passan @JeffPassan

BREAKING: Star third baseman Rafael Devers and the Boston Red Sox are finalizing an 11-year, $331 million contract, sources familiar with the agreement tell ESPN.<br><br>The deal is not done. The physical process hasn't started. But in the end, Devers is expected to remain in Boston.

The move drew plenty of reaction:

Jason Mastrodonato @JMastrodonato

In 2018, with Betts, Bogaerts and Devers, I would've predicted Devers as the least likely to stay in Boston his whole career. But at least they kept one? Gigantic moment for the Red Sox, and a timely one amidst a lackluster offseason. <a href="https://t.co/uQOY1bgV3l">https://t.co/uQOY1bgV3l</a>

Jensen Lewis @JLEWFifty

WOWZERS..<br><br>Much needed positive PR for a <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/RedSox?src=hash&amp;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#RedSox</a> front office that might've been on the brink of utter disaster.. <a href="https://t.co/xac0qLpNOd">https://t.co/xac0qLpNOd</a>

Daniel Connolly @DanielVConnolly

DO YOU BELIEVE IN MIRACLES????? <a href="https://t.co/iVn3AtYluO">https://t.co/iVn3AtYluO</a>

Lee Schechter @LeeSchechter

Ok now it's real. Red Sox actual signed one of their own players to a long-term deal. <br><br>Shocked. <a href="https://t.co/UiXSpa7asl">https://t.co/UiXSpa7asl</a>

Matt Musico @mmusico8

At least the Red Sox got this one right. <a href="https://t.co/A9r2CaPBzC">https://t.co/A9r2CaPBzC</a>

Adam Kaufman @AdamMKaufman

Two days after John Henry was boo'd at Fenway, the <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/RedSox?src=hash&amp;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#RedSox</a> paid Rafael Devers

Mark Feinsand @Feinsand

It turns out that Devers and the Red Sox settling on a salary for 2023 was indeed a good sign toward an extension. Unlike Mookie and Bogaerts, Devers will be in Boston for the next decade-plus. <a href="https://t.co/XlvZdSfxdd">https://t.co/XlvZdSfxdd</a>

Boston Strong @BostonStrong_34

Rafael Devers forever, Red Sox Nation rejoices. <a href="https://t.co/j1BjDCOzTl">pic.twitter.com/j1BjDCOzTl</a>

Ryan Fagan @ryanfagan

So it seems that 2023 is off to a good start for Red Sox fans. This is a deal Boston HAD to get done, for many reasons. <a href="https://t.co/TOODipYlXi">https://t.co/TOODipYlXi</a>

Robert Flores @RoFlo

Happy for <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/RedSox?src=hash&amp;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#RedSox</a> fans, an otherwise weird off season, just got a bit better. <a href="https://t.co/0np4IVs1WX">https://t.co/0np4IVs1WX</a>

David P. Samson @DavidPSamson

Wow. They got it done. Quite a hometown discount. <a href="https://t.co/DVRr8cf2jZ">https://t.co/DVRr8cf2jZ</a>

Devers his coming off another strong season that solidified his value. He had 27 home runs, 88 RBI and a .295/.358/.521 slash line in 141 games. Per Baseball Savant, the 26-year-old finished in the 95th percentile in expected batting average (.282) and in the 94th percentile in expected slugging (.497).

Devers has been a pillar of consistency at the plate since debuting in MLB in 2017. Over that span, he ranks ninth among third basemen in wOBA (.358) and 11th in wRC+ (123).

Especially in the present market, the two-time All-Star stood to collect a significant multiyear contract whenever he signed on the bottom line, the kind of investment Boston has shied away from of late.

On Tuesday, Passan reported Devers and the Red Sox came to terms on a $17.5 million salary for the 2023 season, his final year of team control before he would be eligible for free agency.

The news didn't provide much comfort for the fanbase, though, because it offered few assurances as to his long-term future in Boston. Mookie Betts got a record $27 million for one year when he and the Red Sox avoided arbitration in 2020, and he got shipped out to the Los Angeles Dodgers weeks later.

The Betts trade augured the organization's new priorities after having spared no expense to pursue championships in previous seasons. Andrew Benintendi, another homegrown star from the 2018 World Series team, was traded to the Kansas City Royals in 2021. Allowing Xander Bogaerts to walk in free agency came next.

The terms of Bogaerts' contract with the San Diego Padres ($280 million over 11 years) were eye-popping, and there's a good chance the deal doesn't age well. But allowing Bogaerts to hit free agency in the first place arguably reflected the Red Sox's unwillingness to go above and beyond to keep him.

Brian Barrett @itsbrianbarrett

The top 4 Sox position players in Fangraphs WAR in 2018 <br><br>Mookie (10.5) - traded <br><br>JD (5.7) - left in FA<br><br>Benintendi (4.9) - traded <br><br>Bogaerts (4.4) - left in FA w/out a real offer <br><br>*I loved that team… imagine if they lose Raffy too?

Pete Abraham @PeteAbe

For me, the issue is not that the Sox didn't match the $280 million. It's that when they had a chance in spring training to get it done they badly misread Bogaerts' value and his confidence that he could succeed away from Boston.

In December, chief baseball officer Chaim Bloom indicated Devers remained a priority for the franchise, per MassLive.com's Chris Cotillo:

"I've said it, and I know we haven't demonstrated this to the degree that we've hoped to, but we believe in building around homegrown talent. You want to do it in the right way. It's certainly something we want to do as often as we can. Raffy, for sure, is somebody we want to build around. [...]

"Obviously, the timing on him is a little different because he's not a free agent for another year. But he has been somebody that we love and want right at the center of everything we hope to accomplish, obviously in 2023 but more importantly, in the years beyond, because those are the years he's not under our control. We're hoping to change that."

Actions speak louder than words, so those comments probably did little to assuage the fears of Red Sox fans who watched ownership steadily trim payroll.

Re-signing Devers doesn't mean the free-spending days of the Dave Dombrowski era are back, but it's a tangible sign of a slightly different approach moving forward.